Friday, December 24, 2010

What Time is It?

We are all familiar with the wisdom of Ecclesiastes: 3:1, "To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven."

So little time, so much to do, is a common mantra. Time has been my enemy in Christmas's past. My usual MO is to be late. To wait until the last minute. To break all speed limits to arrive at the appointed time. To just run out of time and not finish what I started for the occasion.

Well this year has been different. I've been a week ahead of myself,  almost showing up for two functions a week early. If I hadn't called one of our Christmas dinner guests yesterday, I'd be cooking the dinner right now, then wondering where the people were to eat it. Thankfully she informed me yesterday was the 23rd instead of the 24th.

At least I have all the food in and things ready so I don't have to go out today, unless I run out of Scotch tape. Rain is predicted, but thus far hasn't shown up. We know the malls are a mess and the roadways crowded with those drivers like me who are driving at breakneck speeds for last minute shopping and errands. Today, I have time to be quiet and relax.

"When the time is right, you just got to do it."  Jack Simplot

What is the time right for you to do? Mend a friendship? Send a thank you card? Call on an elderly person who lives alone? Call a grieving friend? Pray for someone who is having problems? Bake a cake to welcome a new neighbor? Sit with a baby so a new Mom can get her hair cut and a manicure?

Time is truly a gift. Use it wisely.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Is It Better to Give Than Receive

Quite a subject to ponder at this time of year. Most of us have learned that setting too high expectations usually leads to disappointment and this is often very evident in the gift giving season. The question is: "Am I giving this out of love or expectation?"

When we give from our heart, out of love, what can we expect in return? Does love really mean giving with no expectations?

I believe that the Biblical meaning for giving from love is just giving, without expectation. The joy is in the giving, not receiving any thing in return. The reward is the happiness the gift brings to the other person. As a gift giver, my joy is in finding something that will please the receiver. If it doesn't please them, then I expect them to exchange it for something they want or even to re-gift. Once it is given, it is there's to do what they will with it.

However, I do expect the receiver to acknowledge the gift with a thank you. I am frequently disappointed by that expectation.  I don't believe a "Thank You" is too much to expect and the price is certainly right. Now a written "Thank You" card is a real treasure.

When God blesses us, He is thrilled with our praise and gratitude and doesn't ask anything in return except for obedience in love. I think God is disappointed when we skip the gratitude part. I'm sure He treasures our daily gratitude lists as though it were a note. I don't know about you, but mine is written and fairly specific.

The other side of the giving/receiving coin toss is being a cheerful reciever. Some folks are only givers. They don't know the importance of the role of the receiver. Not being a cheerful receiver limits others the joy of blessing us. This was a very difficult concept for me to grasp, but over time I've come to realize how important that is. Accepting the love another has to give, in it's own terms, is a blessing to both the giver and receiver.

So for Christmas, let's strive to be both cheerful givers as well as receivers. Give up the expectataions and accept what is. Let our gifts be blessings that bring joy and open our hearts to more love. Our greatest gift is still Jesus, God's only son and our Counselor, Reedemer, Friend and Wonderful Savior. All glory and thanks be to God.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Are You in an Eclipse?

What a night. After my husband woke me to see the beginning of this world wide eclipse of our moon, I couldn't go back to sleep until the light came back on. I began reflecting on the eclipses I have experience from time to time in my life.

As I observed the darkness coming over our moon, I also noticed clouds bringing an eerie and almost angry sky around the dimming light. What if this darkness lingers and the moon doesn't come back to light?

When sin comes into our lives, it is like the gradual darkening of the moon. Sometimes it isn't even noticeable until it becomes very dark. We just seem to drift into it. The dark angry cloud covering that accompanies the growing darkness obscures us from seeing clearly what is really happening. Before we know it, our whole world seems dark, dreary, frightening and we may become very lost.

Then Jesus said unto them, "Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth no whither he goeth."

What a promise. The light is still there, even if we don't readily see it. It is waiting for us to reach across the obstacle and let our Savior back into our life. Jesus, is the light that never goes away. We may obscure it with sinful thoughts and actions. But as soon as we decide to let go of the sins and follow Christ, the light again shines on us.

"Even in darkness light dawns for the upright, for the gracious and compassionate and righteous man."

Regaradless of how deep your eclipse is,  Jesus will be there to take your hand and bring you into His light.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Our Advent Journey

This is the Advent journey, to breathe deeply of God's love in the promise of the manger and the cross. This is the hope and the promise so we can indeed enjoy our own journey from birth to death soaking in God's glory and the beauty he has laid out for our enjoyment.

I hope everyone has had a chance to truly reflect on the meaning of Advent and gained new knowledge and wisdom. I love to visualize a manger at the foot of a cross. It can describe the journey from life to death, being a newborn in Christ, moving from this life to eternal life or God's fullfillment of his promise to send a son who will be our savior.

I hope you reflected on how everything had to fall exactly into place in God's timing, at His descretion. Other things had to happen first, including the geneology of Jesus through his eartlhy father and birth mother. God came down to earth to live with man as man. He brought his teaching to people who could believe, follow and take the word out into the world.

I hope you reflected on how people must have received this message. The prophets told of the coming of a Messiah for generations, yet when He came, most could not accept it. He was feared by the authorities who threatetened to kill him. Seekers came following a star. Shepherds watched and Angels sang. What a sight. Joyous for believers, unsettling for non-believers.

It's still that way today. Believers celebrate the season in joyful expectation and reverence while non-believers celebrate the season, but not the reason. We are all on different advent journeys, depending on where we are in our own belief systems and spiritual maturation. I'd just like to invite all to follow the star and behold the most magnificent miracle, the baby destined to be our savior. Look inside the manger and let the infant's heart light beam into your own, bring warmth to your soul, love to your life and bring you closer to Him and His wonderful promises. Come, Lord Jesus.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

What Has He Done For You?

‎"Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done. Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts."
Psalm 105:1-2 

One thing I am thankful for this year is a group called Roaring Lambs ministries that actively exemplifies this passage. Their ministry is taking the Lord's Word into the marketplace. They support and encourage several home and community Bible Studies, sending the Word into senior living centers and thru Christian organizations such as Positive Women's Connection Bible study, Women in Christian Media, the DFW Christian Chamber of Commerce and Fellowship of Professional Christian Women. The founder, Gary Kinder, teaches a dynamic Bible study each Sunday at Prestonwood Country club in a non-denominational setting.

I first became acquainted with them at their annual Writer's Conference. The enthusiasm and witness that I experienced there was contagious. I started with Carol Ladd's monthly Bible Study at Prestonwood Country Club and from there was introduced to all the other connections, as well as their annual banquet that honors outstanding Christian leaders in the Dallas business community and the annual "Amplify Your Faith" seminar. The executive director, Donna Skell is a dynamo with seemingly unlimited energy to share the Gospel. It's worth taking time to meet her and hear her amazing testimony and why sharing Christ in the marketplace is her passion.

 When we hear the news, both from America and across the world, it is evident that we need to be actively making known to all what He has done. The world is not following Christ's teaching, not because they haven't heard, but they do not believe and practice it. Christians have a tremendous challenge today, not only in praising His name and giving thanks. We must focus time and attention in sharing Truth with everyone we meet, any place any time.

We start with our own families and friends. The workplace is a huge field needing to be harvested. We are not evangelists. We are ordinary people who have experienced the Lord's blessings in our own lives. We don't share this by preaching. We share it in the example we set in our own lives through walking in a close relationship with Christ, obedience to the scriptures, and treating others as Christ has taught us by his example. 

The revival this country needs begins with individuals. What are you doing to let others know what he has done for you? He can do as much for them and even more. But how will they know that unless you step up in the confidence he will equip you to tell your story and set an example?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

How Does Your Gratitude List Grow?

“Thou that has given so much to me, Give one thing more–a grateful heart;

Not thankful when it pleaseth me, As if thy blessings had spare days;
But such a heart, whose pulse may be Thy praise.”
– George Herbert

As we begin our annual Thanksgiving season, it's time to revise our gratitude list for this year. What are you thankful for? Health, prosperity, family and friends, a home, a job? I'm sure your list goes on and on.

Do you write down all the things you are grateful for, both large and small? What about the reprimand given you by your boss that totally changed your work life from  isolation to being part of the team, a sense of belonging and effectiveness? What about the comment from your husband complaining about your use of time that stimulated developing time management skills that allow you to do more, yet have more time for things you enjoy?

Sometimes we forget that negative situations can be turned into positive blessings that need to be added to our list.  Think about those situations or thoughts this past year that have helped you to grow and become more of the person God created you to be, those things that made you see with a positve heart and brought you peace and joy. 

Write them down on your gratitude list, lest you forget.  Reviewing this list may bring fresh ideas for solving both old and new problems. We actually have so much to be thankful for that we just can't keep it all inside until this special day set aside to give thanks.  Spend time each day in reflection and thanks giving. Your gratitude list is never complete. It grows one day at a time.

Friday, November 12, 2010

When to Say Grace

"You say grace before meals. All right. But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play and pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing and grace before I dip the pen in the ink."
 --G.K. Chesterton

I was taught to say grace before meals, but never before events I attended or work that I was going to perform. However, I have always asked for God's help before taking a test, speaking or writing. Asking for God's help on my work gives me a warm fuzzy and confidence to begin the task. With God's help, I know I can accomplish a lot more than I possibly could being on my own.

I thought I knew the Bible fairly well, but it seems that I've missed a few verses along the way, or at least the interpretation of how to use them in my every day life. In Colossians 3:17 Paul tells us, "And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him." It doesn't specify when to give thanks, so it could be at the beginning or end of the undertaking.

Again, in I Thessalonians 5:16-18 we are told to "Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing.
In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God." If I am giving thanks in everything and praying without ceasing, then I am certainly praying before and after what I do.

But I believe Christ's example during the Passover Meal before his betrayal is undisputed. He gave thanks before and after the distribution of the bread and wine. "Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, "Take, eat; this is my body." And He took the cup, and when He had given thanks He gave it to them, saying, "Drink of it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins." (Matthew 26:26-28)

My lesson for today is to give thanks for God's blessing on my work as well as events I participate in before I begin, instead of just asking for the blessing. Then at the end, give Him gratitude. We can never give Him too much praise or thanksgiving. After all, He has given us our lives and gifts to use to His glory.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Lord Upholds Me

"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."

Isaiah 41:10

Have you ever been disappointed by a friend or family member who promised to do something with or for you? How did you handle the situation? Did you complain? Did you swear? Did you mark the friend off your friend list?

It happened to me today.  A friend called me at the last minute to annouce she was experiencing stomach problems. As a result, I was unable to attend a function I had been looking forward to for several weeks.  I was able to handle the situation without the resentment I would usually experience because I knew God was with me. Perhaps it was his plan that I not attend, but instead stay home and finish working on my desk and filing. After all I've been praying that he would help me get organized. Is He using this opportunity to strengthen me and help me?

As I focus on finding His will, I am accepting disappointing situations with a much better attitude. Instead of complaining or becoming angry, I look for how it is pointing me toward the Lord. I'm discovering that He definitely upholds me with His righteous right hand.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Anchored, Drifting or Sailing?

"To reach a port, we must sail—Sail, not tie at anchor—Sail, not drift."

Franklin Roosevelt

Last month we went to San Francisco to attend the 20th annual reunion of the destroyer Jim served on, the Lyman K. Swenson DD729. The group sailed San Francisco Bay aboard the USS Potomac, Franklin D. Roosevelt's yacht.

FDR served this country following the Greeat Depression and during WWII, very tough times for all Americans. He was a victim of the disease Polio and walked with the aid of crutches or rode in a wheelchair. His "floating White House" was a reconditioned Coast Guard cutter, with handicap accessibility as was available in 1936.

While aboard, I was reminded of his accomplishments. Regardless of my political leaning, I admire this man's courage and leadership skills during the time he served and his refusal to accept his handicap as limiting his creativity and ability. He maintained a conservative life style reflective of the American people's big family vacations, lavish entertaining or fashion statements. He worked steadily with a goal of getting the country back on it's feet.

I would definitely say that this quote fit his personality. In spite of his physical handicap, he was never anchored to shore. He sailed into uncharted seas, first creating jobs that built a better infrastructure and created jobs for millions of broke Americans, then building the nation's defense against enemy world powers, working with other world leaders to protect their countries and to end a war with the goal of peace between all nations.

The impressive Golden Gate Bridge, built in 1937 during his administration, links the city of San Francisco to the Pacific Ocean and has been a symbol of the greatness of our country. As we sailed beneath it, I realized how important it is for the citizens of this country to stay connected.

True Peace comes only from our Heavenly Father, through his son, Jesus Christ. It is because of our connection with Him that we connect with others in peace. He showed us how to sail into peaceful waters when he guided the disciples ship through the storm. Peter gave us the example of the importance of staying focused on Christ when he tried to walk on the water but was only successful by holding on to Christ.

We can truly let go of what ever anchors us and sail into uncharted waters if Christ is at the helm, holding our hand and our focus stays on him, whether we are the President of the United States or a poor fisherman lost in the storms of life or a single parent who has just lost his/her job or a college student with mounting loans and dismal prospects in a sparse job market. Like the Disciples, give Christ the opportunity to Captain the sailing ship.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

My Adopted Family

My Adopted Family

"Whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother."

(Matthew 12:50)

Being an only child, this scripture has always had a lot of meaning for me. It felt so good to know that I had brothers and sisters in Christ. I was adopted into the family of God. I was under God's will and His blessing. But what did this really mean and what should I do in this family?

Most of my earthly family didn't follow through on doing God's will. They walked their own walk. As the child of an alcoholic father, the name father meant fun, but neither financial responsibility nor dependability. How could I possibly depend on a God I couldn't see or feel?  So this earthly family who did not follow God's will was all I had. Fortunately, God kept sending people into my life who did his will, who were much better examples of family for me, until I figured it out.

If you happen to be in a family who do not truly represent the will or family of God, just ask the Heavenly Father, who is dependable, to help you find His family. You will most likely find them in a church. You will recognize them when you are faced with crises and they demonstrate God's love to you in so many ways, but mostly praying with and for you. They will be bringing you food, taking care of  your children when you  can't, running errands for you, sitting in the hospital with you and all the other servant things God has gifted this family to do.  Most of the time, you don't even have to ask, He just sends them and the Spirit leads them to do the right thing.

This is how we learn unconditional love and witnessing through concern and kindness. This is where we recognize the gifts our Heavenly father has blessed us with. This passage is the foundation of our personal witness. Thanks be to God, His Son and His Holy Spirit for loving us so we can love others and join God's family as His special adopted sons and daughters. Whose life do you need to touch for the Lord? Don't forget to tell them that we were adopted through Christ's work on the Cross and by His Grace, nothing we personally have done except to respond to the call.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven."
(Matthew 5:43–45)

Have you ever had someone who was an absolute thorn in your side? A person that when the name was brought up sent prickles up your spine and you puffed up 3 sizes? I hope you handled it better than I did.

My husbands first wife, divorced about 20 years before I came along, never accepted their divorce and decided to remain in his life forever. She was always calling to give advice, manipulating with lies, or wanting something, usually money. It was not only annoying, but also totally inappropriate. Even his family agreed. I could have understood her need to stay in contact if they children together, but this was not the case.

I would blow up every time her name was mentioned and usuallly end up with a headache just thinking about it. The final blow was when he had ignored her e-mails and phone calls and an e-mail was sent to my address, which was only one letter different from his. She was frantic because he was not answering her mail or calls and thought he must be very ill or dying.

I finally had to admit that this was a very sick woman with a lot of major problems, primarily a result of not accepting reality and moving on with her life. My being angry  didn't bother her one bit. It only affected me. I began to understand "vengeance is mine, saith the Lord." My feelings of vengeance only affects me and makes me feel bad.

So I decided to ask God for forgiveness for the awful feelings I had toward her. I began praying for her and asked God to heal us for my anger and her for her obvious mental state.  Praying for those who annoy us does indeed bring us peace. I know that I have no control over the situation, except to pray for God's help and accept his will for my life. 

Thank you, dear heavenly Father, for being the way for me to find peace by helping me to love your other sons and daughters as you love me.

Friday, October 22, 2010


"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” 
(Joshua 1:9 )

That word "DREAD" is so close to the word "DEAD." And if we live in FEAR and DREAD, we are DEAD, spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. We become immobilized, unable to think rationally or creatively. We become stuck, unable to make decisions or take needed action. And that is not living, especially the full life God has planned for us.

So, when our situation looks dismal and choices seem limited, where do we go? It's easy to just sit around ringing our hands and repeating, "woe is me." And we'll get lots of worldly advice and sympathy. But is that what we want? Do we need more encouragement to feel sorry for ourselves and continue to flounder? NO, we have options.

Christians do not have to fear and dread what others do because we have hope in our Lord. Through the centuries he has proven himself faithful to believers. Think about Job, Moses, or even Christ as he walked down the Via Dolorosa to Calvary.

In Psalm 34:4 , the psalmist says, "I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears."

Even Sir Winston Churchhill told us that "we have nothing to fear but fear itself."
Freedom is available as soon as we surrender and let Christ forgive us, guide us, protect us and love us? Why then is fear and dread holding us back, keeping us from living the full life God has provided?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Does your business reflect hope and faith?

My commitment to blog each day has certainly not been fullfilled. Life seems to fill up my calendar and first thing I know, I'm off track again. So I will begin again. Aren't we blessed to have a "boss" who allows us U-turns and forgives us when we "slip" a little?

Today I attended the DFW Christian Chamber of Commerce as a new member. I was so excited to have a table displaying the Blessings Unlimited line of inspirational home decor and gifts, cards, jewelry, office and desk and children's items. I felt so blessed to have the opportunity to meet over lunch with other local area business people who represent Christian principles, ideals and service. I pray this is what my business reflects.

Gift giving season is coming and I have lots of Blessings Unlimited suggestions. Of course our greatest gift is the Lord Himself whose birth we honor during this season. As we plan our seasonal Thanksgiving and Christmas activities, let's be truly grateful for all of our blessings, but especially God's grace and Christ's sacrifice on the cross for us. It's never too early to share these blessings. Are you reflecting this in your business as well as your home life?

What will you be giving your co-workers, business associates, customers, family and friends during this gift giving season? My suggestions will cost money, but your gift of Christ's love, faith and hope is a free gift. Not sure how to share these blessings? Roaring Lambs is presenting it's annual  "Amplyfy Your Faith Conference" on November 13 at the Hope Center in Plano. You can register on line at or call 972.380.0123. At the end of the day you will be prepared to share the blessings of Christ.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Making Amends

"Esaus ran to meet Jacob and embraced him and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept." (Genesis 33:4)

Jacob was meeting his powerful estranged brother. He feared for his life and that of his family. He struggled with God prior to meeting his brother face to face and asked for a blessing over this situation. Esaus was truly delighted to see this brother that he had claimed a birthright from and resulted in Jacob living a difficult life. They embraced and treated each other in grace and delight for being reunited.

Has a misunderstanding or event estranged you from a relative or friend?  Especially one that prevailed for many years? Then the time came when you had to see them? Did you approach with fear and trembling? I did when I was going to attend a High School reunion and be in the company of my "arch enemy."

Like Jacob, I prayed about it and the meeting went well. I couldn't even remember what our "fight" was all about and neither of us brought it up. The years had helped heal the wounds. We actually found some things we had in common and enjoyed visiting with each other.

Being right with each other is very important to God and our own forgiveness.   Making amends  doesn't always require a long confession of wrongs and asking forgiveness.  Being kind and demonstrating genuine concern and delight in being with the person can create a lot of warmth and acceptance.  Right relationships with others definitely helps us avoid counting sheep all night long.

"Right actions in the future are the best apologies for past bad behavior." (Tyron Edwards)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Self Reliance...True or False?

"Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string. Accept the place the divine providence has found for you, the society of your contemporaries, the connection of events. Great men have always done so." Ralph Waldo Emerson

Emerson's essay on self-reliance is oft quoted, especially in motivational literature and speeches. He was a trancendental philosopher and essayist of the mid 1800's. What does he mean by "divine providence" is his quotes? If we leave that out, or do not read "divine providence" as meaning God, then it sounds like it's all up to us. But let's look a little closer.

Transcendentalism was a school of thought prevalent in literature in the 19th Century and a theme of famous scholars of that time. It emphasizes the intuitive and spiritual thought above emperical or scientific evidence. Anti-conformity, individualism and being yourself are core beliefs. It continues to have prevalence today in a lot of philosophical and psychological literature and has deep roots in "New Age" spirituality.

As Christians, we have named "divine providence" God and recognize the three persons of the God trinity, with the Holy Spirit the one who speaks to us and through us. Those special thoughts that enter our consciousness and call us to action, while sitting still in God's silence, come from the Holy Spirit. We are given access to "divine providence," wisdom and knowledge through the Holy Spirit. Think of your divine appointments that have connected the special events in your life. Is your spirituality transcendental through "divine guidence" or firmly rooted in the God of the Bible? So, are you relying on yourself, or on God, to direct your life? 

"But I trust in you, O Lord: I say, 'You are my God.' My times are in your hands; deliver me from my enemies and from those who pursue me."  (PS 31:14-15 NIV)

"And He has put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many shall see and fear (revere and worship) and put their trust and confident reliance in the Lord." (Psalm 40:1-3)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The First of the 3 P's

There are 3 P's that have immobilized me a great deal of my life. For the next 3 days, we'll take a look at these because I'm sure others have dealt with them. What are they? Mr. Procrastination, Ms Pride and Ms Perfectionism.

I believe the root of evil thought is Ms. Pride. She literally locks us up inside of ourselves and keeps that ME focus alive. We become totally self involved. We can not admit our failures, although we are well aware of them. We have to give the impression of being better than we are. We must keep tight control over ourselves and our environment. Our life is steeped in secrets and fear of being found out.

"Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. Better to be lowly in spirit and among the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud." (Proverbs 16:18-19)

Growing up under the shadow of an alcoholic father, I felt very inadequate, less of a person than my friends. I was indeed different. I locked lots of family secrets deep inside, including the real me. I wore my mask very well. How different my life would have been if I had unlocked that door and let my real self out much earlier.

It took me a long time to grasp the concept that I was made in my Heavenly Father's image and not my earthly father's. I had spent most of my life trying to please my parents and make them proud of me. Grace! What a concept. I kept looking for something that would merit it and finally realized it was Christ on the Cross, not anything I could possibly do accept humbly accept Him as my Lord and Savior.

"May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." (Galatians 6:14)

Christ willingly took that painful walk up to Calvary for me so I could be washed of my sin. Pride could not do that for me. It kept me from recognizing my sin. I was finally freed when I went down on my knees in total humility and submission. He didn't care if my hair was backcombed, red or white. I didn't have on makeup or the latest fashion. He just wants us to come just as we are, leaving our past behind and taking His hand into our future.

"Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience." (Colossions 3:12)

With His help and a lot of encouragement from friends, pastors, Godly women who mentored me, and Christian writers, I have learned to walk in His spirit. Walking humbly before Him is so much easier than walking on eggs, hauling that sack of pride on my back, burdened down with self-pity, strivings, and all the other lies we live in pride.

"Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other." (Galatians 5:25-26)

Now, I don't have to hide behind the mask of pride, running from a lot of family garbage.
I am proud to proclaim that I am a grateful child of God, sister to The King of Kings, and member of the best family ever, the family of God. I am never unemployed as a humble servant of the Lord's. There is always lots for me to do and it keeps my mind off of self. For these things, I am proud.

"He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." (Micah 6:8 )


Monday, September 6, 2010

What Are We Laboring For

Today is Labor Day. Traditionally businesses were closed so the laborers could have a day off to spend with their families. Today, many who have the day off are at the beach, on the lake or in the backyard barbecuing. Yet, many do not have the day off and are working in retail stores to offer sales and shopping time for those who prefer using their time off for that purpose.

The Bible is filled with scriptures regarding labor. Ecclesiastes 2, 4, 5, 8 and 9 are filled with examples. "What does a man get for all the toil and anxious striving with which he labors under the sun? All his days his work is pain and grief; even at night his mind does not rest. This too is meaningless." (Ecclesiates 2:22-23 NIV)

How depressing! Has my work been meaningless? Is this all there is? Heaven forbid! But Solomon does bring up great points regarding what we strive for through our labor. Yes, we must earn a living for our families to provide shelter, clothing and food. But is this all our labor is about?

I think the wise old ruler is merely questioning our motives and attitudes regarding our work. Are we working for the right reasons? Are we working to "keep up with the Jones"? Could this be covetousness? Are we working just for success or to prove something? If we work to leave a fortune to our children,  are we sacrificing valuable time with them now and not helping them to learn to work and manage finances? Are we not using our full potential and cheating God and ourselves of all we can be? Are we using our gifts and talents in evil ways that turn others from God?

"But I said, 'I have labored to no purpose; I have spent my strength in vain and for nothing. Yet what is due me is in the LORD's hand, and my reward is with my God'." (Isaiah 49:4)

As we celebrate Labor Day, we must give thanks to God for the gifts and talents he has given us and the work he has provided for us. I've never gotten a job that I did not pray for and so often it was not the job I had in mind, but because it came from God it was best for me. If we see our work as for the Lord, our whole attitude toward it changes and we can overcome the obstacles along our road to fullfillment.

"Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain." (1Corinthians 15:58)

What the Bible continues to emphasize is to depend on his guidance, wisdom and understanding. Our labor should always reflect God in our lives  and be giving Him the glory, whether we are cleaning someone's home or the CEO of a fortune 500 company or serving on the mission field in the jungles of Africa.

"We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Thessalonians 1:3)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Sailing in Stormy Seas

The seas are angry. Winds are swirling. A tropical storm is brewing in the Atlantic. Will it reach hurricane proportions? What direction is it moving? Is it gaining strength? Where will it land?

Every summer, the alerts go out. The storm is coming! We have decisions to make. Will we stay and guard our property or will we evacuate to safety as we've been urged to do? But no matter which path we take, we are going to experience damage. It may be just a few limbs knocked down or whole communities wiped out.

With or without warning we sail in stormy seas. Various storms are going to come into our lives. Some may be mild while others devastating. They come in the form of divorces, job loss, misunderstandings, illness, accidents, death of friends and family, churches splitting, financial difficulties and bankruptcy. Are we prepared?

Remember the disciples crossing the Sea of Galilee in the storm. As long as Jesus was with them, they had no fear. He brought peace to the raging wind and surging waves. We, too, know that He is there in our storms as well. We need to batten down the hatches in our lives, pray and listen for God's answer to how we should proceed. In  him we have faith and hope, a lighthouse in a safe harbor as the storms approach.

"The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble." (Psalm 9:9-10)

"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."  (Isaiah 41:10)

Monday, August 30, 2010

Autism's Hero Honored in 2010 Emmy's

If only the sun-drenched celebrities are being noticed and worshiped, then our children are going to have a tough time seeing the value in the shadows, where the thinkers, probers and scientists are keeping society together.

Who watched the Emmy's last night? An HBO movie, a true story drama about a young woman's determination to follow her true path in life, beat out several others in the various categories where more glitz, glammor, and humor was depicted. The movie "Temple Grandin",  is the story about a woman who didn't let the social, physical or emotional barriers imposed by Autism keep her from achieving her full potential.

The movie was honored with Emmy's for Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, Best Suporting Actor and Best Directing in the :Made for TV Movie categories." The subject of the movie, Temple Grandin, was  acknowledged as each award was presented.  She came up on stage with the cast when the film's director, who announced that she was the mother of an Autistic son,  received the award for Best Directing. Each awardee commented on what a privilege is had been to play their role, Temple, Temple's supportive mother and the teacher who believed in her, encouraged and supporter her efforts.

Temple has a PhD in Animal Husbandry and has developed a wide range of equipment that has made it easier for the cattle and cattlemen to do their jobs through her uncanny ability to visualize. She is a college professor and speaks to a variety of groups on animal husbandry and Autism. I describe her as a celebritiy who is a genuine human being. 

So much emphasis was placed on the attire worn by the celebrities at the awards. Yet, Temple was not dressed in a popular designer original gown. She wore a  Western dress shirt and jeans, a symbol of her profession and lifestyle. I believe she definitely represents one of those thinker, prober, scientist described in Rita Dove's quote.

Why did this impress me so much? My eight year old grandson is Autistic. I know the sacrifices his parents and sisters have made to help him achieve his full potential. The night I watched the movie on HBO, I cried the first real tears for my grandson. I acknowleged the struggles his future may hold and realized what he and his family would be facing. But I was given hope. My grandson had the lack of speech that was the first sign that Temple had a problem. He has had years of early childhood therapy that was not avaiable to her. We are so blessed by the work of the thinker, probers and scientists who are devoted to better diagnosis and treatment for this devasting development disorder. I'm grateful for Temple's openness and extraordinary work in this area that is affecting so many children today.

Dallas is hosting a large conference on Future Horizons in Autism/Aspagers October 28-29. I am grateful for the researchers who are looking for answers. But I know that God made my grandson for his glory and that he is "perfectly and wonderfully made." His future is in God's hands and Temple's story and modern findings encourages us that his "future horizons" are open to a lot of potential and possibilities.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

His Grace My Faith: How Long is your Hose?

His Grace My Faith: How Long is your Hose?: "'To a gardener there is nothing more exasperating than a hose that just isn't long enough.'(Cecil Roberts) But what about a Christian or a..."

How Long is your Hose?

"To a gardener there is nothing more exasperating than a hose that just isn't long enough."(Cecil Roberts)

But what about a Christian or a writer? How long is your hose? Is it reaching those places off in the corner that need watering?

Early morning is my time to "go to the garden alone." It's quiet except when the birds come to sing me a song. As Dorothy Frances Gurney once said: "You're closer to God's heart in a garden than any place else on earth." And this is so true for me. 

In summer, when the days are longer and the Texas heat is beating down on my tender plants, I'm up at 6 AM to water them. They are my children, my charges, my lives that need to be cared for. I have a hose that reaches to all but a couple spots in the back yard. To reach those difficult places, I have to carry a watering to them, or just let them die. I can't depend on rain to nourish them because I live in a dry summer climate.

God has placed us in a larger garden, his world, planted with his people. What about the ones in those difficult places who need his living water to give them strength?  What about those carrying heavy burdens and need to know there is a savior who carries our burdens? What about the sick or injured who need a prayer partner? What about those souls who need to know about the gospel? Is my hose reaching those folks who are being beaten down by satan's heat. Is it long enough to reach out to them all? Is it sending out the living water that only Jesus can bring into the heart? 

"Whoever believes in me, as the scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him." (JN 7:38"

Gracious Lord fill my heart daily with your precious living water so that it will flow from me to others who need your living water. Give me a long enough hose to reach to farthest places as well as those who are nearer to me. When I'm in your garden, I want to be among your "master gardeners."

Friday, August 27, 2010

In the Midst of Chaos

"There is no situation so chaotic that God cannot, from that situation, create something that is surpassingly good. He did it at the creation. He did it at the cross. He is doing it today." (Bishop Moule)

For years, chaos was normal for me. I not only lived in a world of chaos, but my life was close to a mini representation of it. If things were quiet, I'd somehow get it stirred up. When I began to realize that peace, not just in the world, but in the home, was aspired to by most people, I began questioning where my need for chaos came from.

As I learned about the effects of alcholism on families, a picture was emerging. My father was an alcoholic. But I could not admit that he was less than perfect. As the child of an alcoholic, it was my role to be perfect and a perfect child had to have perfect parents. So I continued to wear the mask and play the role, even though it drove me crazy living the lie. Then I chose to marry an alcoholic, believing that I was strong enough to deal with it. I thought my childhood was chaotic, but nothing like being committed to a continual daily dose. But I loved both of my alcoholics.

Although I'd been a church goer since childhood, it was not until I began working the 12 Steps in Al-Anon that I began to understand the chaos in my life, accept it, and truly place it in the Lord's hands. I had to admit my powerlessness over alcohol and turn my life totally over to him. As a nearly life long Christian, I thought I'd done that years ago. I guess I had been fooled again, by our enemy, satan.

I've been on an unbelievable journey with God this past year. He has given me a new group of friends who, by His grace, are accepting, loving and encouraging. Instead of fueling the chaos, I'm letting Him take over and life is much calmer. I am so grateful for this new journey I am on and excited to see where He is leading me.

In I Thessalonians 5:16 we are encouraged to: "Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." Gracious God, creator of all universe, thank you for walking beside me on this journey. Help me to stay calm in the midst of chaos. Help me stay focused on the meaning of the cross and joyful for Christ's role in bringing peace to my chaotic life and to our chaotic world.

His Grace My Faith: His Grace, My Faith

His Grace My Faith: His Grace, My Faith: "Here I am Lord. Everything I have ever accomplished in my life is by your grace. Yes, it is I Lord and I have heard you calling in the night..."

His Grace My Faith: The "C" Word

His Grace My Faith: The "C" Word: "“Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.' (Proverbs 16:3) I should no longer be amazed when the Lord brings all t..."

His Grace My Faith: Another "C" Word to Consider

His Grace My Faith: Another "C" Word to Consider: "'Because they have no changes, therefore they fear not God' (Ps.55:19). I have finally learned that we can't get away from change, nor can..."

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Another "C" Word to Consider

"Because they have no changes, therefore they fear not God" (Ps.55:19).

I have finally learned that we can't get away from change, nor can we control most of the change that comes our way. Change that is slow and gradual is more easily adjusted to. It's those sudden changes that knock us for a loop. So the key to change is learning how to accept it.

When we do accept change and embrace it rather than fight it. Interesting things happen. A popular psychologist of the 70's used to tie ropes around a group of people representing a system or family. When the circle was broken by someone leaving or entering the system, all had to adjust. The system was changed. Fighting the change brought upheaval and frustration. Acceptance brought peace.

"We cannot change our past. We can not change the fact that people act in a certain way. We can not change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is attitude." (Charles R. Swindol)

Attitudes are hard to change when they've built up over time. But according to psychologist William James, behavioral change follows attitude change. When we change our attitude to acceptance, we no longer have to kick and scream, fight and bite, or whatever we do to resist the inevitable.

Our Bible passage is referring to those "others" in our lives who don't want to change themselves because they do not fear God. These are those stubborn folks who hang on to addictions, false beliefs and opinions, judgementalness and antiquated ideas. But we don't have to limit our lives because they've limited theirs. All we can change is ourselves and you'd be surprised how that can effect change in others. Put them in God's hands and offer up the following "Serenity Prayer:"

"God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference." (Reinhold Niebuhr)

As this passage implies, 

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The "C" Word

“Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed." (Proverbs 16:3)

I should no longer be amazed when the Lord brings all things together for me, once I commit my thoughts and work over to Him. But the "C" word is a difficult one for many of us because giving up control, another "C" word, is scary. I know because both of these words have disabled me.

Last night at our crit group, I really saw the power in giving up control and commiting my work to the Lord. I've been in a desert as far as my writing was concerned. I had decided to stay with non-fiction, but while sitting at the computer, a fiction chapter began to form. I read it last night and was greatly encouraged to continue with the idea.

One chapter is all I have plus a lot of personal experience.  Yet, God is speaking to me through this group. I had only met with them a couple of times, although I've known them for several years. I had procrastinated actually joining them, yet from the first meeting, I knew I needed to be there and it was affirmed last night.

My "dry season" in my writing definitely resulted from lack of full commitment. As I shared with the group, for the past
few years I had been 'flitting" around. When I finallly took my seat in the group, I received not only affirmation, but a kindred soul who had asked God to plant the seed in someone to write on the subject.  And there I sat, by His grace alone.

God does not make mistakes. Once we commit our work to him, he works right beside us, guides us and sends His angels to encourage and support us.

Thanks be to you, Lord, for planting the seed in me to tackle the subject of alcholism from Your perspective and planting me in a garden where it can be watered. May the increase be for Your glory.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

His Grace, My Faith

Here I am Lord. Everything I have ever accomplished in my life is by your grace. Yes, it is I Lord and I have heard you calling in the night. I will go, Lord, as you lead me.....

By His grace, I've been given many gifts, one of which is writing. Oh how the "enemy" dances around in my life and before long my faith had been weakened and replaced with discouragement and finally fear. Then "writer's block" settled in and the dust accumulated on all those fantastic ideas for the Great American Novel as well as my first blog.

By His grace, I'm finally hearing the voices of the encouragers He has placed in my life. My name and devotions, written a couple years ago, are in print, thanks to Standard Publishing. I'm shaking off the dusty idea board, taking more seat time and getting to work. I've put a "stop losss" order on Satan's investment in my life and holding on to His grace. Tonight, I'm taking a first chapter to "Brain Knockers," my crit group.

So here I am, launching my first ever blog. I know it's going to be fun. It's in His hands, by His grace and by my faith in His will for my life. Thanks for being here.